Spices | Keep or Toss



With the new year, getting organized is on everyone’s mind.  I’ve noticed  a lot of articles have come out online and on TV about what you can clear out of your cupboard right away.  I have to say I didn’t agree with all of them.  For instance, I love having more then one 2 cup glass measuring cup and they said that was a waste.

Another item that caught my attention was Expired Spices.  I know for sure I definitely have these in my cupboard and do use them.  After all, it takes a mighty long time to use one of those super bottles from the warehouse clubs – like Sam or Costco.

So am I going to get sick because I’ve used Expired Spices.  According to Eat By Date the answer is NO.  While you won’t get sick, the taste and the potency of the spices will decrease.  So you can use them, but you definitely won’t get the biggest bank for your buck.

How to Check Your Spices for Freshness

I have three ways to help you determine in your spices are at their best.

Date Test

The first requires you to do something when you first open the bottle.  It’s the date method and it requires you to mark on your bottle the date you open it and then follow these guidelines from McCormick:


• Ground spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric): 2 to 3 years
• Herbs (basil, oregano, parsley): 1 to 3 years
• Seasoning blends: 1 to 2 years
• Whole spices (cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks): 4 years
• Seeds: 4 years (except for poppy and sesame seeds, which should be discarded after 2 years)

Color Test

Checking the color is a good way to test your spices for freshness.  Here’s a great example.



Which parsley do you think was the newest or which garlic would you want to eat?

Now for the results.



The big bottle is the expired item in my cupboard that I picked up at Sam’s Club or Gorton Foods.  The smaller jars are  brand new bottles I picked up at Aldi for 99 cents each.

Here’s a good rule of thumb for color: leafy herbs will fade (as you see above) and red spices will turn brown as they age.  In the case of the garlic it’s gotten darker.

Smell Test

Another great way to check your spices is by smelling it.  Just put a bit in your hand and if it doesn’t smell strong, you might want to consider getting a new container.

Here’s the results of a blind smell test I did with my daughter on the Garlic.  I didn’t tell her which one was what or how you could tell the difference between old and new.

Even with her eyes closed and just by smell she picked the green bowl as the new one – which was correct.

The Results

While I hate to do it, being the Frugal Minded Mom I am I can tell you after doing these two tests, the two big jars of spices are going in the trash.

Based on these tests I can tell you I will never buy my spices in big jars again.  Although they may seem to be a great deal you aren’t going to get the most out of them. While you won’t get sick, your meals aren’t going to taste as good as they can.  This is why spices are definitely one of my top 12 items to buy at Aldi.

You get a smaller jar at a great price and you won’t just end up throwing your money away.

Wondering what else you can get a great deal on Aldi.  Just click below.


It lists the Aldi prices for over 300 items.  I personally use this chart to know if I using a coupon with a sale at my local Grocery Store is a deal or if it’s better to just get it at Aldi.

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